Ministers affected by the presidential directive to resign after declaring their interest to contest in 2023 general elections have today to turn in their resignation letters inspite of President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive giving an ultimatum ending Monday, May 16.
This is because, in the adjusted schedule of activities and timetable of the All Progressives Congress (APC), today is the last day for submission of completed forms and accompanying documents, while screening of aspirants for all the offices is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday and the publication of screening results to be done on Monday.
It was gathered that members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) with political aspirations may have to appear before the APC screening committee with copies of their letters of resignation and acknowledgement as part of the additional stipulations aspirants are expected to comply with.
Hours after the presidential directive, the Federal Government, yesterday, released detailed list of categories of political appointees who are expected to resign from their positions on or before Monday. The latest directive was contained in a circular with Ref.No.SGF/OP/I/S.3/XII/173, signed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, and dated May 11.
According to the circular, the affected persons include all ministers, heads and members of extra-ministerial departments, agencies and parastatals of government, ambassadors, as well as other political appointees, who desire to contest for elective offices.
The SGF directed that the concerned ministers hand over to ministers of state where they exist or to the permanent secretary, where there is no minister of state, for smooth running of the machinery of government and foreign missions.
According to Mustapha, “Ambassadors shall hand over to their deputy heads of mission or the most senior foreign service officer in line with established practices while heads of extra-ministerial departments, agencies and parastatals are to hand over to the most senior director/officer as may be peculiar to the organisation, in line with the service wide Circular No. SGF.50/S. Il/C.2/268 of December 4, 2017. The contents of this circular and the incidental directives take effect immediately.”
Some of the ministers and heads of agencies, who have indicated interest in contesting election but yet to resign are: Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige; Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi; Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva; Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami; Minister of State, Mines and Steel Development, Uche Ogar; and Minister of Women Affairs, Pauline Tallen.
Others are governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele; Director-General of the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting (NSPM), Abbas Masanawa; Director-General of Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency (SMEDAN), Dikko Umar Radda among others.
Amaechi was said to have resigned on Wednesday night. However, a tweet from his aide, Israel Ibeleme, debunked the report. When contacted yesterday, the aide said his boss was in the office yesterday (Thursday), but would drop his resignation today or tomorrow.
Speaking last night on Channels TV’s Politics Today, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, said the law supports the position of President Buhari on resignation order of political appointees and it is with immediate effect.
He stated that the President’s directive came at the appropriate time, noting that there is need for those who have signified their intention to run for political offices to concentrate on their ambition, adding that it is important that work of governance does not suffer setbacks.
He said: “There is nothing as good as an idea whose time has come. The President made the announcement at the right time. The FEC meeting had been held and we were closing, when the president addressed the gathering that some were interested in running for the position of the President, and he said it is advisable that those who have collected forms tender their resignations.
“This is so that those who have signified their intention to run could concentrate on their ambition. If they are running their ministry and also running their political campaign, they can’t concentrate, so it was in their interest that the President said that. It is also in the interest of government so that governance will not suffer.
“There is also the legal angle, though it has not been fully determined yet, but we know that there is the danger of everything being voided if APC is not careful. There is a popular Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act. It is not fully determined now but what if the highest court in the land determines it and it ruins the party, so it’s safer to be on the side of caution.
“When a President speaks, he has the force of law behind it, the president doesn’t have to bark. I am sure nobody will wait to be beaten over this, it’s law already and has taken effect.”
THE pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, yesterday, expressed satisfaction with President Buhari over the directive. National Publicity Secretary of the body, Mr. Jare Ajayi, stated that the directive and promptness of its execution have demonstrated that he could be decisive where and when he wants to and on matters that touch his heart.
The Afenifere spokesman called on the President to apply the same decisiveness with which he charged his appointees to resign to tackle the myriads of challenges that the country is facing to avert a slide into anarchy.
“It makes it difficult for one to agree with the notion that he does not have the power or capacity to deal with at least some of the major problems Nigerians are battling with. He has failed to deal with them only because he did not consider them as problematic as the rest of us are considering them.
“For example, what stops the President from providing all that is needed by the security agencies in the country to put a stop to terrorism and insecurity going on in the country? What stops him from ensuring that the Ministries of Education and Labour provide the wherewithal for the smooth running of our universities in line with the proposition that the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) have been making for several years? What stops President Buhari from breathing life back into the moribund four refineries in the country or build new ones?”
THE CBN governor, Emefiele, last night has told reporters “there will be news” after a meeting with President Buhari. Though the CBN governor is yet to declare his intention to run for the presidency, a group of farmers had obtained the expression of interest and nomination forms for him. He has also approached a court to declare he is eligible to contest the APC presidential primary billed for May 30 without resigning.
When he was approached by journalists after his meeting with the President and reminded of the presidential directive to immediately quit office, the CBN boss said: “There is no news now, but there will be news. You heard me, I said there is no news, but there will be news.”
Reminded his reported ambition was creating anxiety among Nigerians and the international community, Emefiele said he was having fun over the development. According to him: “Let them have heart attack. It’s good to have heart attack. I am having a lot of fun.”
Although there has been no official statement on his visit to the President, it was not immediately clear if the visit is a regular one or is connected with his recent involvement in politicking, which saw his name being mentioned among presidential aspirants.
It was also not clear if he has sent in his resignation letter in compliance with President Buhari’s directives to all government appointees running for political offices to resign and pursue their ambitions.
In a related development, a new twist emerged at the Federal High Court in Abuja yesterday, as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and two others applied to be joined in the suit by Emefiele, seeking to enforce his right to participate in the presidential election without resigning.
The court had on Monday adjourned to Thursday to enable the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) appear before it to show why the court should not restrain them from preventing the CBN governor from realising his political ambition by participating in all the processes leading to the 2023 presidential election.
He submitted that Constitutional provisions stipulated that he could only resign his appointment as governor 30 days to the presidential election, which he is interested in contesting.
The summoning of INEC and AGF was sequel to a motion ex-parte argued by Emefiele’s lawyer, Mike Ozekhome, to restrain the two defendants from taking any step that would jeopardise the interest of his client.
Ruling on the ex-parte, Justice Mohammed adjourned to May 23 for parties to adopt their final written addresses. He warned that the court will not entertain any request for extension of time since all parties have pledged to the accelerated hearing of the matter.
Reacting to the development, Chief Executive Officer of the Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprise (CPPE), Dr. Musa Yusuf, has said the partisan disposition of Emefiele has cast a dark cloud over the credibility, independence, neutrality and professionalism of the apex bank.
He said: “It is a troubling development because of the huge reputational risk to the CBN and wider implications for the Nigerian economy. It portends ominous outlook for the credibility of monetary policy, foreign exchange policy, management of intervention funds and the impartial discharge of regulatory responsibilities of the apex bank.
“There are also profound implications for the confidence of investors, both foreign or local. The Central Bank is an institution that needs to earn the trust of all stakeholders in the economy, irrespective of their political affiliation, creed, gender, religion, ethnicity or vocation. It is difficult to earn this trust with the unfolding scenario of the obvious partisan stance of the CBN governor. This development raises serious ethical and propriety issues, which are much bigger than the legal questions.
“The distractions of dragging the apex bank into the chaotic space of partisan politics can only worsen an already bad situation. In the circumstances, the most respectable course of action for Emefiele is to resign to preserve the integrity, credibility, independence, neutrality, and professionalism of the CBN,” he said.
Meanwhile, a governorship and two House of Representatives aspirants have dragged APC and INEC before a Federal High Court in Abuja over threats to disqualify them. The aspirants, Ambassador Sodique Baba Abubakar, Sodique Lawal Abubakar and Bindir Umar Buba are praying the court to stop APC and INEC from disqualifying them on the strength of their being political appointees.
The suit marked, FHC/ABJ/CS/641/2022, was instituted on their behalf by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Adeniyi Akintola. The three plaintiffs are contending that Section 84(11) and (12) of the new Electoral Act is discriminatory against them and unconstitutional and therefore should not be permitted by the court to be used to disqualify them on account of their being mere political appointees.
The plaintiffs, therefore, asked the court to declare that President Buhari’s directive is unconstitutional, and therefore, null and void.
The first plaintiff, Sodique Abubakar, claimed to be a political appointee currently serving as Nigeria’s Ambassador to Republic of Chad.
The second plaintiff, Sodique Lawal Abubakar, claimed to be a Special Assistant in the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), while the third defendant, Bindir Umar Buba, said he is National Coordinator, Social Investment Programme in the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs.
They averred that they have obtained expression of interest forms to contest in the APC primaries as candidates in the coming election.
No date has yet been fixed for hearing of the suit.